They must learn to say “no.”
The “crisis of self-affirmation” is one of the most important stages that a child goes through as he or she grows. A child learns that their own identity is separate from that of their parents between the ages of 18 months and 3 years old. They start to want to be more independent. At the same time that they start saying “no,” they start saying “I.”
This transition to being your own person is not easy. Some days they push us away because they want to do everything on their own; other days they don’t do anything or cling to us.
Toddlers need to move.
Kids don’t like to be kept in a small space, and they won’t stay still for very long. They want to keep learning how to move. Stand: They start out by just standing. Then, they learn how to climb and walk. After they learn how to walk, they want to run and move big things, the heavier the better. If you’re someone who likes to push yourself, like when you carry heavy goods or move heavy boxes and furniture, there’s a term for that: maximum effort.
Toddlers need to explore and learn about the world around them.
The Montessori method says that we should embrace this, make safe places for our kids to play, involve them in everyday life activities that use all of their senses, and let them go outside. If they want to play, let them dig in the dirt, take off their shoes, splash in the water, and run around in the rain.
Toddlers need their own space.
To help kids become curious learners, they should have the freedom to do things for themselves, make their own decisions about what they want to do, and feel in charge of their lives.
Toddlers need rules.
They will keep kids safe, teach them to be respectful of others and their surroundings, and help them become good citizens. Limits also allow the adult to intervene before a boundary is broken, avoiding the all-too-familiar yelling, rage, and blame that happens so often. In the Montessori method, you can’t be free to do what you want. In this book, parents learn how to be calm leaders for their children.
Toddlers need a lot of structure and regularity.
Toddlers like to have the same things in the same place, the same routine, and the same rules every day. It helps kids understand, make sense of their surroundings, and figure out what is going to happen next.
As long as rules aren’t always enforced, toddlers will keep trying them to see what we decide today. Try again if they find it works for them to nag or get angry, and they will. People call this type of reinforcement “intermittent.”
If we know this, we can be more patient and understanding. If we can’t give them the same thing every day, we’ll know when they need extra help. In their point of view, things aren’t going as planned. We won’t think they’re being silly. We can help them calm down and then help them find a solution once they’re calm.
None of us is having any problems with toddlers, so we don’t have to worry about them.
They’re having a hard time. Jean Rosenberg, an educator, said this in the New York Times storey “Seeing Tantrums as Distress, Not Defiance.” It’s great. “How can I help right now?” Instead being angry, we search for ways to be helpful instead.
Toddlers are very quick-footed.
Their prefrontal cortex, which is the part of the brain that helps us control ourselves and make decisions, is still growing (and will continue to do so for the next twenty years). If they climb on the table again or try to take something from someone else’s hands, we might have to help them. We might also have to be patient if they get angry. The way I like to say it: “We need to be their frontal cortex.”
Toddlers need time to think about what we say.
Instead of telling our child to put their shoes on again and again, we might count to ten in our heads to give them time to think about what we want. After they’re eight, they’ll start to answer.
Toddlers need to be talked to.
Our kids try to communicate with us in many different ways. There are many ways we can help young children learn new words and phrases. Babies gurgle, early toddlers babble, and older toddlers love to ask and answer questions; we can show attention to what they are saying; and we can give these young children rich language to soak up like a sponge.
Young children are fascinated by mastery.
Toddlers like to keep doing things until they get good at them. Then, do what they want. It is usually something hard enough to be hard but not so hard that they give up. They’ll keep going through the process until it’s perfect. They move on when they can do something well.
Children as young as two years old love to help and be a part of the family.
Their toys don’t seem to be very important to them. Their favourite things are to help us cook and clean. They also like to help us plan for visits, as well. Give them more time, set them up for success, and lower your expectations about what they will do when you teach your child how to be a part of the family. These are the things they will build on as they grow up and become schoolchildren and teenagers.